According to a recent report, President Obama has secretly launched attacks on Iranian computers that are being used in the country’s quest for nuclear enrichment. The President had begun ordering these cyberattacks since his first few months in office.
The original framework for the cyberattacks was created under the Bush Administration and was given the code name “Olympic Games”. The actual computer worm is named “Stuxnet” and was briefly made aware in the summer of 2010 when a programming error made the worm just from the nuclear plant in Iran to various other areas in the world.
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A few days after the worm was found to have jumped from the Iranian computer to other areas of the world, President Obama talked strategy with Vice President Joe Biden and then CIA director, Leon Panetta. Generally, the leaders discussed whether the program should continue forward or if the program needed to be terminated. Eventually, it was determined that the cyberattacks will continue as there was no clear knowledge as to how much the Iranians knew.
A few weeks later, the decision to continue forward turned out to be the right call as the worm temporarily took down 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges that Iran was using for its uranium. As it turns out, knowledge of these programs was leaked over the course of eighteen months by “current and former” American, European and Israeli leaders which would not release their names. Now that this highly classified information was made public, should we fear a retaliatory attack from the Iranians? It is known that last year, Iran officially announced that it had created a “cyber military” in which the country would be able to attack its enemies over the internet.
Interestingly enough, the US government had acknowledged prior that they were looking into building cyberweapons. In fact, there are reports that they were used against personal computers of Al Qaeda fighters and in the NATO mission in Libya last year. However, it was never known that the “Olympic Games” program existed. Over the past couple of decades, military technology has rapidly expanded to likes of unmanned drones and cyberattacks.
In order to stay on top, we must be at the forefront of this expanding technology, as it appears we are. The problem with these attacks being made public, as stated before, is the possibility of a retaliation attack from Iran. We do not, as far as we know, have any defensive measures against a foreign cyberattack which is worrisome because if our system was hit, it could prove costly on our economy.